goucher college dance newsletter - fall 2011

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Goucher College's semi annual dance newsletter. Vol. 27, No. 1, Fall 2011

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  • 1dancea student publication of the goucher college dance department

    vol. 27, no. 1 | Fall 2011

    GOUCHER COLLEGE

    Dancing Under the Tuscan SunErin Quarles 12

    Imagine waking up in the morning, looking out your window and glimpsing a beautiful, rolling Tuscan hillside. After getting dressed and grabbing some breakfast, you trek down the hill, past an ancient Roman aqueduct, to a little dance studio (sometimes a bit cold, sometimes a bit splintery), where you take Modern class. Then you head back to your villa atop the hill, where you discuss Platos philosophies regarding art and eat a delicious, fresh Italian meal while sitting

    outside in a field of daisies. After lunch, you join your fellow dancers to learn some traditional Tarantella dances and celebrate life. Although a bit tired after this, you sit through Italian class, hoping to get a better grasp of the language in order to feel more confident when ordering at restaurants and conversing with locals. You end your day by watching the sunset over the rustic city of Arezzo as you walk to dinner for another wonderfully prepared meal, perhaps coupled

    with some Tiramisu or warm biscotti. After some reflection on your day (and maybe a shower) you fall asleep in your bed, anxious for what is in store for tomorrow.

    Tuscan Sun continued on p. 7

    Goucher dancers who traveled to Italy in the spring of 2011, (L-R) Stephanie Walker, Hannah Wasielewski, Erin Quarles, Chelsea Murphy, Elizabeth Purcell, Lucy Wild, and Marah Wilson.Photo courtesy of Erin Quarles.

  • 2 | goucherdance

    Amy Seiwert Visits CampusLaura Brown 12

    During this summers Early Arrival Dance Program, the Dance Department welcomed guest artist Amy Seiwert to Goucher. Seiwert, a former dancer with the Sacramento and Smuin Ballets, now choreographs for many dance companies while also acting as director of her own, imij-re.

    Although Seiwert is a classically trained dancer, her works tend to lean more towards the contemporary ballet style. She notes that while her mentor, Michael Smuin, may not have agreed with her self-described weird sense of choreography, he always said he could not force his ideas on her process.

    Before showing her work at the Meet the Artist event, she enlightened her audience on

    how she uses improvisation to choreograph. She showed the audience how there are six sides to a hand and how to draw a line with each of those six sides. Seiwert also mentioned her belief of active creation on a dancer, meaning that she does not necessarily start choreographing a piece before she sees who she is working with, because the dancers body may not fit the choreography. Choreography is therefore a collaboration between dancer and choreographer.

    While at Goucher, Seiwert got to experience an earthquake and even had to leave early due to an incoming hurricane. Yet, after five short days, she managed to finish her work

    and premiere the piece at Meet the Artist. Although there is no particular story line accompanying the current work, Seiwert explained that she found inspiration in the music. Furthermore, she uses imagery while choreographing, allowing the beginning of the piece to develop like a woven tapestry.

    Seiwert had not yet named her work before the end of her residency time, but she returned for the Fall Dance Concert to work with the dancers once more before the works debut.

    Karissa Horowicz, one of Gouchers ballet faculty members, coordinated Ms. Seiwerts visit this August.

    Sara ThomsonMore Than Just the Dance Department CoordinatorLizzy Purcell 12

    She grew up in Baltimore, she loves the color purple, her favorite food is ice cream, and she enjoys sewing. She never danced with New York City Ballet or Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, yet she is one of the most integral members of the Goucher College Dance Department.

    Sara Thomson has been working as the dance department coordinator since September of 2002. During her nine years at Goucher, she has happily spent her time handling phone and e-mail correspondence, contacting prospective students, coordinating departmental

    publications, overseeing fundraising, attending department faculty meetings, transcribing faculty meeting minutes, and delegating aspects of these various duties to student workers.

    While e-mail correspondence and transcribing of faculty meeting minutes are significant in keeping the department afloat, Thomson is most known for her personable attitude. In fact, her favorite part of the job is relating to the students.

    I enjoy interacting with you guys, and I appreciate how hard you all work, says

    Thomson of this special relationship. The students also recognize and value all the work that Thomson does in the department. Even though it may not be listed in her job description, Thomson answers endless questions from students throughout her 9-to-5 day, forming relationships with the dance students. Sara Thompson is an irreplaceable member of the Dance Department and the Goucher community; her hard work and lively personality make her more than just a dance department coordinator.

    left The cast performs at Meet the Artist. right (L-R) Megan Simon, Sophia Kurek, Emily Gnatt, and Tiffini Jones in rehearsal.All photos courtesy of Fiona Cansino.

  • 3Why Ballet MattersEllen Bast 14

    On the evening of Friday, November 4, 2011, members of the Goucher and greater Baltimore communities gathered in the Hyman Forum of the Athenaeum to hear Jennifer Homans, dance historian and author of Apollos Angels: A History of Ballet, speak. Her lecture, titled Ballets Past and Why It Matters, explored ballets cultural significance historically and how this role will evolve and change in the future. Homans discussed her interpretations of ballet and choreographys progressions from the regal expression of Louis XIVs court to present-day showy, uninspired athleticism. She then warned of such a changes repercussions for the integrity of the art form. Also addressed were the numerous issuesthose outside the realm of artistic expressionthat influence the arts in todays world.

    After the presentation, Homans held a question-and-answer session. Many individuals took advantage of this time to have the renowned author address their questions about aspects of the ballet world from performance to history and social issues. Ms. Homans autographed copies of her book, giving audience members even more opportunity to interact with her personally at the end of the evening.

    Homans is a former professional ballerina with the Chicago Lyric Opera Ballet, the San Francisco Ballet, and the Pacific Northwest Ballet. She received her B.A. from Columbia University and her Ph.D. in modern European history from New York University, where she is currently a Distinguished Scholar in Residence. Homans is also the dance critic for the New Republic and has written for numerous other publications, including The International Herald Tribune and The New York Times. Her book Apollos Angels: A History of Ballet was named one of The New York Times Book Reviews 10 Best Books of the Year.

    Homanss visit, organized by instructor Laura Dolid and Dance Department Coordinator Sara Thomson, was sponsored by the Goucher Dance Department.

    Jennifer HomansCourtesy of Goucher Communications Office.

  • 4 | goucherdance

    Studying Dance Education in South Africa Laura Brown 12

    When I stepped off the plane in South Africa after 16 exhausting hours of travel, I had no idea what the next three weeks had in store for me. Braced by lesson plans, stories, education professor Dr. La Jerne Cornish, dance education professor Rick Southerland, and my own enthusiasm, I felt confident to take my place in my new South African home.

    Before we left for South Africa, our class was required to take a pre-course segment in which we discussed the plan for our three weeks abroad. While every year the focus of the trip is to increase reading, vocabulary, and comprehension skills in our classrooms, this year introduced the approach of using movement to accomplish these goals.

    The focal point of the lesson plans was the idea of the Cinderella story. Dr. Cornish chose three Cinderella stories, all with varying cultural backgrounds that we as teachers were to use in our classroom. Next, as a class, we chose ten vocabulary words

    from each of the three stories to teach the students. Our last idea was to teach our students how to write their own stories, so that when we left South Africa they would have acquired a skill that they could use again and again.

    On our first day in the classroom, we were split into our co-teaching pairs and sent to meet our new students. It was both exciting and terrifying. We found out quickly that our students spoke little English, since they are taught in their native tongue until the fourth grade and we were teaching the fifth. Movement soon became an integral part of our lesson, not just because Southerland had told us to use it, but because it was essential for communication. All 30 of our vocabulary words had a movement assigned to them. Soon, all 28 of our students were not only having fun dancing in the classroom but also understanding all of their new vocabulary words.

    Once my co-teacher and I had taught the vocabulary words, we moved on to the essential parts of a story; for example: who, what, where, when, and why. Before we knew it, all of our students were writing their own stories. Here we found another use for movement in the classroom: connecting movement to their stories. This way, the students could use critical-thinking skills to assess why they chose to use certain movements.

    When the three weeks were up, our students put on a final performance of the story they had created as a class. After only nine short

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